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Old 07-09-10, 12:50 PM   #1
TrevorCook
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Bare Aluminum Frame Options

I'm looking for an option that is cheap and durable. Any suggestions?
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Old 07-09-10, 01:19 PM   #2
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do you mean bare as in unpainted, or bare as in frame-only?
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Old 07-09-10, 01:52 PM   #3
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I'm looking for an option that is cheap and durable. Any suggestions?

Use the BF search engine! There's been may threads on this.

Or use Google.
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Old 07-09-10, 03:05 PM   #4
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I meant bare as in unpainted. And I have looked through the forums, but I really haven't found definitive answer. Some say polished, some say sand blasted, some say glass bead blasted. I'm just interested in the pros and cons of these approaches and the amount of time/money that goes into each.

Thanks!
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Old 07-09-10, 04:17 PM   #5
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Polishing aluminum will temporarily make it shiny. As the metal is still bare, it will eventually go chalky and gray again as oxidization occurs.
Sand blasting or bead blasting will clean it in preparation for proper finishing. If you just leave it like that, it will once again just oxidize.
Unless an aluminum frame is anodized, painted, or powder-coated, it will always oxidize and end up looking like crap. Anodizing a single piece was kind of expensive, last time I checked. Painting can produce the best custom result, but can be expensive too. Powder-coating is relatively cheap and very durable. I've seen silver powder-coated aluminum frames that you'd swear were just polished or clear-anodized. It's the way I'd go. Just make sure the BB shell threads and inside of the seattube at the collar are masked off so they don't end up with a layer of powdercoat on them.

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Old 07-09-10, 04:21 PM   #6
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rattle can is cheap, .. powder coat is durable, pick one. ..

there is a powder material, that is, when finished, is clear ..

Last edited by fietsbob; 07-09-10 at 05:28 PM.
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Old 07-09-10, 04:59 PM   #7
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Could I bead blast and powder coat myself? I have access to an air compressor if that's necessary. If so, are there any good guides available?
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Old 07-09-10, 05:19 PM   #8
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Could I bead blast and powder coat myself? I have access to an air compressor if that's necessary. If so, are there any good guides available?
No. Bead blast machines are big and expensive, and powder coating is a process that requires all kinds of specialized equipment and facilities.
Bead blasting isn't needed for powder coating anyway, and many powder coaters have experience at doing bike frames. Just paying them to do it is you best option, IMO.
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Old 07-09-10, 05:25 PM   #9
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the bead/sand blasting is to get a clean surface, powder coat wont stick to dirty ones ..
and just touching it , is a contamination, your skin body oils will do it ..

it's a plastic powder Glazing stuck to the frame by static electric charges, then melted in a big Oven ..

Rattle can paint you can do yourself , durability will be replaced by ease of touch up.

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Old 07-09-10, 05:29 PM   #10
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the blasting is to get a clean surface, powder coat wont stick to dirty ones ..
it's a plastic powder Glazing stuck to the frame by static electric charges, then melted in a big Oven ...
The powder coaters I know use a chemical bath to prep the surface, not blasting.

Rattle can jobs tend to be lousy-looking or amateur at best, and lack a decent level of durability. Several coats including primer and clear coats are required to make it even semi-decent, setting you back a bunch of cash that could have been invested in a single durable powder coat that lasts a lifetime and looks great.

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Old 07-09-10, 06:06 PM   #11
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If you want the bare aluminium look then polish it up to whatever surface finish level you want from a brushed look you get from 320 wetordry paper to a smooth matt finish you get from 400 to a more refined look with 600 to a near mirror shine from 1000 followed by autobody rubbing compound. Following that wax it with a good automotive wax to provide the surface with some protection to avoid the grey to white surface that would results in time on an unprotected finish. You'll likely need to re-wax it 3 or 4 times a year to keep it looking nice.
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Old 07-09-10, 06:15 PM   #12
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Thanks for for all the info guys! Powder coating seems like the way to go but, is there a process that is durable that I can do myself?
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Old 07-09-10, 06:24 PM   #13
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Powder coating at home? Nope. You need far too much specialty stuff to make this work to produce results that are cost efficient. This is why you just don't see home powder coating kits for sale.

The same thing applies to doing a good paintjob that is durable. The typical Krylon and Rustoleum rattle can paints are just way too soft to stand up well.

One possible option MAY be engine enamels. I buddy of mine sprayed some motorcycle parts with black engine enamel and then baked the parts in a spare oven (don't even THINK about using the one you cook stuff in if you have even a shred of a sense of self preservation ). He reported to me that the parts were standing up very well to scuffs from his riding boots. The "baking" is more just an elevated temperature to dry and cure the enamel quicker than it would in normal conditions. You could make your own "oven" by shrouding the frame after it has dried to the touch using styrofoam or cardboard to make the "oven" and a couple of 100 watt old style incandescents as the heat source. You only need to raise the temp to around 150F and hold it there for 3 to 4 hours.
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Old 07-09-10, 06:52 PM   #14
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If you have a good air compressor and a spray gun you can get auto paint and do it your self and it will look nice if you know how to paint with a spray gun its not hard to do.I have painted a few of my own cars and they turn out looking great.A bicycle frame should be no different.Good Luck to you.
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Old 07-09-10, 07:03 PM   #15
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So I guess bare aluminum is not the answer...

New question: What is this most durable finish option I can do myself?
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Old 07-10-10, 01:07 AM   #16
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It depends on if you have an air compressor and a decent spray gun and know how to use it or not. If you don't then forget about buying one other than as a long term tool since the cost would be totally prohibitive for a one off job.

There's a number of rattle can products that call themselves "epoxy" of some sort. Many of them are just a good enamel. But a few are actually a style of epoxy. And I even found a reference to a Rustoleum epoxy aerosol that has a special plunger that is used to inject the hardener into the resin which you shake and then spray the paint out and it cures like a true epoxy is intended to cure, by chemical reaction instead of merely drying. But I'll be darned if I can wade through the Rustoleum web site and find it. Too many pages of products. But if you find it then maybe post a link to the info.

Other than maybe something specialized like this possible Rustoleum product there's just nothing you can do at home that will match the durability of powder coating or a good catalyzed two part base color/clear coat automotive finish. And neither of these is a home solution without spending big bucks setting up for it.
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Old 07-10-10, 07:03 AM   #17
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I've got two raw Al bikes, one came that way, the other I stripped clean. One of them is my mountain bike that I ride on the sea shore, the other is my winter bike that get covered with salt/Ferric Cloride (the blue salt with metal etch). They look great still after 2 years. I don't have to worry about the finish getting scratched/damaged.
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Old 07-10-10, 07:09 AM   #18
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IIRC, one bike maker (Cannondale?) did offer at least one of their bikes in "bare" polished Aluminum. I don't know if it was clear anodized or just clear coated. I also don't remember if it was a road or MTB frame.
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Old 07-10-10, 08:17 AM   #19
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"New question: What is this most durable finish option I can do myself?" --TrevorCook

Duplicolor has been touting their aerosol enamal paint recently (I haven't tried it.). Use it following a self etching primer. No way that a home applied rattle can paint job is going to look as good or be as durable as professional application, but can be quite presentable. Clear coating can be used following decal installation and will give a couple more coats of protection to the base color.

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Old 07-10-10, 09:45 AM   #20
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OK, maybe Spectrum Powder uses chemicals, most blast, industrial applications .. reused, if it fits in a sandblast box ,
or you sweep up she stuff when youre done.

epoxy paints would be a way to go, but only stuff that will be mixed on site,
and sprayed
have to add the catalyst to the resin,to get real chemically cured stuff ..
.. Imron type stuff is back into specialty processes .
UV cured stuff is out there too.. need a box with lamps in it then ..

and clean the tools immediately..

and don't forget the vapor safety mask , don't want any in your lungs ..

Last edited by fietsbob; 07-10-10 at 09:52 AM.
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Old 07-10-10, 09:49 AM   #21
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So I guess bare aluminum is not the answer...

New question: What is this most durable finish option I can do myself?

You won't find a definitive answer because there isn't one.... at least one that you want to hear. If you want a durable finish, get it done professionally. This is just being honest with you. People have always been looking for cheap ways to get good finish on their frames, and they never work. Cheap paint jobs= cheap paint jobs. Sure, if you own your own painting shop, you can do it for cheap, but if that was the case, you wouldn't be asking.

If you can't spare $$ for a modest pro paint job, just leave the Al alone. You'll have to polish it frequently, but it's cheap, as you furnish the labor. But , you're always fighting the oxidization game. Al does corrode, and get pretty bad looking.

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Old 07-10-10, 11:06 AM   #22
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Since it's bare already why not just go with it and see how it works out? Wax it with a good automotive wax as I mentioned earlier and watch for any signs of discoloration that needs to be touched up here and there.

I used some cranksets and stems that were badly scuffed and scratched up that I polished to a fine shine and then used a car wax. They were used on my year round commuter bikes and suffered very little from corrosion issues. And being cheapie commuters I only re-waxed about once every two years. If you stay on top of the bare frame and re-wax it a couple or three times a year it should stay good looking.
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Old 07-10-10, 12:08 PM   #23
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I gave mine the lightest possible coat using spray can. The paint was not thick enough to chip off but still kept the frame from corroding. You can touch up scratches with a laundry marker.
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Old 07-15-10, 09:46 AM   #24
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It's actually not bare at the moment, but if I were to make it, what wax would you recommend?
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Old 07-15-10, 11:23 AM   #25
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Just paint it with clear Urethane paint, from a spray can.
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